August Ann Inspired

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”

-Japanese Proverb

I once dreamed of being a doctor. For a minute. When I was five. Then I wanted to be a vet. That one stuck for a little bit longer, but once I realized I would have to put animals down, that was enough to say, nah, not for me. I racked up a zoo in my adulthood instead, on our happy little farm, where nothing dies on purpose. At one point I even wanted to be a Navy Seal…laugh all you want. I was reading a book about a Navy Seal and I became a dreamer. That was the shortest life goal I’ve probably ever had. I think I was ten, maybe? In 8th grade I wanted to be an athletic trainer.  By my freshman year of high school, I was absolutely positive I wanted to join the Peace Corp.  I am such a homebody, I have no idea what inspired that one. Somewhere around my junior year of high school, I realized I wanted to teach.

My first semester at Ball State I declared that I was an English Education major. I was (and still am) an avid reader, and have been all my life. And, I love to write. Seemed the most logical choice. I knew I wasn’t going to teach elementary school. At the time girls going into elementary education were a dime a dozen. There was something tugging at my heart though, gnawing at me, that little voice that whispered to my soul, “you LOVE history, why wouldn’t you teach it”…and so, by the second semester of my freshman year of college I had switched my major to Social Studies Education. Talk about a dime a dozen.

When I went for my first interview after graduation, with sweaty palms and a lot of false confidence, the principal showed me the stack of math applications compared to the stack of social studies applicants. The math applicants amounted to a couple folders…the social studies stack was basically the height of an entire set of encyclopedias. I got the job.

I taught for two years at that school and loved it. I always said I would never leave that position for any other, unless it was my Alma mater. And that’s exactly what happened. I taught for another four years at the school I graduated from. And then, Abby was born, with a super scary metabolic disorder. The thought of handing her care over to someone was not something I could stomach. I became a stay-at-home mom. It took a good year of being home to wrap my head around that. No longer thinking of myself as a teacher, no clear picture of when or if I would ever have my own classroom again.

Ten years later, I am still home. There is So. Much. Value. in being a stay-at-home mom, and I am grateful, grateful, grateful, every single day that I am able to devote myself 100% to my family. I also feel a substantial amount of guilt, now that all of our kids are in school. I’m working on letting that go. But, there are days I really, really miss being in front of a class of kids. Interacting with them. Getting to know them. Their hopes and dreams. Doubts and fears.

I miss teaching about Rosa Parks. The Battle of Gettysburg. The Greatest Generation. Those brave men that stormed the beaches of Normandy. I REALLY miss talking about the Constitution. The Bill of Rights. Teaching kids how important their vote, their voice, really is. I miss the people I taught with. Some of the best people I have ever met. People that I looked forward to seeing every day. People that held me up during some of the darkest days of my life. I miss feeling like I am contributing to the greater good, in a bigger way than just in my own home. I miss that.

And so, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to take a minute and not only share my story but shine a light on some of MY favorite teachers.

{Mrs. Knapp-4th Grade}

 I love that we share a middle name. I remember beaming when you told me that YOUR middle name was Lew too, just spelled differently. I love how you made every person in your class feel special. You loved your kids like you were our mama and I needed that. You just must have known in some way, we all did. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

{Mrs. Baron-11th grade English}

You taught me to write cheeseburgers. I STILL write cheeseburgers. They are probably a little sloppier than you’d like, but I still think of that writing tool every time I sit down to write. Thank you for pushing me. Challenging me. You were not an easy teacher. You expected our very best work and I LOVED rising to that challenge. I love that you still read what I write. That means the world to me.

{Mr. Orchard-10th grade World History, 11th grade U.S. History, 12th grade Independent Study}

YOU inspired my love of History. The highlight of my school day was walking into your classroom. BEST CLASSROOM EVER. Christmas lights, lamps, plants, maps, wall hangings…and then there was you…the Coolest. Teacher. Ever. I learned SO much from you, and felt so incredibly honored to get to be your colleague.

{Dr. Eidson- College, Junior Year}

The Civil War. That was the one and only class I ever took from you, but oh how I wish it had been more. I looked so forward to that class every M-W-F, my junior year of college. You were a southerner teaching a bunch of northerners. I ate up that drawl of yours and how you tediously went through each battle of that war. I am so incredibly grateful I got in that class before you retired. Fun fact, you taught Mr. Orchard when he was at Ball State and after one day in your class I knew exactly who taught HIM about the Civil War.

{Dr. Edmonds-College, Senior Year}

I have never been to Vietnam, but YOU made me feel like I was “in country”, watching as all the events of that war unfolded. You took us there. You made us feel a part of that war. Observing from the treeline. Watching from a field. You made those events real. You brought them to life. The book “The Things They Carried” still haunts me. Thank you for teaching ME about that war.

To all of MY teachers, to all of those who have taught/are teaching my own kiddos, THANK YOU!

Thank you for your time. Your care. Your love. For pushing. Challenging. Doing a job that you don’t get paid enough for and doing it like you get paid a million bucks.

Maybe one day I’ll renew my teacher’s license I let expire. Maybe one day I’ll step back in a classroom. Maybe. But not today. Today, I am going grocery shopping.

As always, thanks for reading!

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